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Bond set at $90,000 in Spirit Lake school board suit

By Staff | Mar 19, 2008

SPIRIT LAKE — If they wish to go forward in their quest to oust two members of the Spirit Lake School Board, the plaintiffs listed in the petition must post a $90,000 bond by March 26. If the five petitioners fail to make bond, the case against school board president Beth Will and vice-president Ann Goerrs will be dismissed.

Judge Frank Nelson issued the ruling on Monday in Dickinson County District Court after hearing requests from attorneys representing both parties. Peter Hart, a special prosecutor appointed to represent the plaintiffs, asked the court for a $60,000 bond. Attorney Steve Avery, representing Will and Goerss, requested a $100,000 bond.

Iowa law requires private individuals who file petitions in district court seeking to remove elected officials from office pay legal fees and court costs.

Judge Nelson also set April 7 at 10 a.m. as the date and time to hear several motions pending in the case. Avery has filed a motion in district court to dismiss the case.

The legal action stems from the resignation on Feb. 5 of Spirit Lake High School Principal Jedd Sherman. The school board voted 3-2 to accept Sherman’s resignation, which he said was made under duress. After students picketed for two days in public forums, Sherman rescinded his resignation, but the school board stuck by its decision.

The board has been under fire of late for shortfalls in the budget. Some pundits have suggested Sherman was ousted for criticizing the board on its fiscal management, but president Will has steadfastly denied that as the reason for Sherman’s dismissal. “Mr. Sherman’s case has nothing to do with the finances of the district,” Will said. Spirit Lake Superintendent Doug Latham said the board would await the results of a Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) vote on Tuesday to determine its approach to managing the budget.